First woman to command a carrier strike group retires from US Navy

The first woman to ever command a carrier strike group retired from active US Navy duty in a ceremony held aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) on September 15.

Retiring as the commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. Nora W. Tyson was succeeded by Vice Adm. John D. Alexander at the ceremony in San Diego, at Naval Air Station North Island.

Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Scott H. Swift, who served as the ceremony’s guest speaker, said that when Tyson was commissioned the opportunities available for women was much different.

“Women were not allowed to serve in combatant ships, and they’d only just been given the opportunity to serve on sea duty aboard support and auxiliary ships less than a year prior. But for those of us that know her well, Nora was never one to let apparent obstacles get in the way of success,” said Swift.

In July 2010, Tyson became the first woman to command a carrier strike group when she took control of the George H.W. Bush Strike Group, leading 13 ships, 80 combatant aircraft, and about 9,000 sailors, as the commander of Carrier Strike Group Two.

She led the strike group on its maiden deployment where they conducted combat operations in support of operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. When she assumed command of U.S. 3rd Fleet in July 2015, Tyson became the first woman to command an operational numbered fleet.

Under Tyson’s command, 3rd Fleet’s role expanded in the Pacific under the U.S. Pacific Fleet initiative Third Fleet Forward. Third Fleet Forward is an operational concept where 3rd Fleet maintains command and control of units throughout their deployment rather than transferring operational control to U.S. 7th Fleet once units cross the international date line.

During her time on board, Tyson oversaw Third Fleet Forward deployments of two surface action groups, a carrier strike group, and several independently deploying ships.

In her remarks, Tyson acknowledged the barriers she’s broken and said that while she is proud to have been the first woman to command a carrier strike group and the first woman to command an operational numbered fleet, she is even more proud to be part of a Navy where those milestones are in the past. She also thanked her friends, family, and those who have supported her throughout her career.

“As leaders, we know we do not succeed on our own. We are here because of the people who put their faith in us – the officers who pushed us beyond our comfort zones, the chiefs who molded us into naval officers, and perhaps most importantly, we are here because of all those incredible men and women we’ve been privileged to lead and mentor along the way – the Sailors and officers who placed their trust in us to make the right decisions,” said Tyson.

Tyson said she was incredibly proud of the men and women serving in 3rd Fleet and was confident in turning over command to Alexander.

Tyson retired after 38 years of naval service.